Supporting Most Able Students
At The Ilfracombe Academy we are committed to challenging all of our students to ensure they develop the learning habits that allow them to emerge as intellectually curious, resilient and independent lifelong learners, which is especially vital for more able learners. This guide offers some practical tips to challenging your children at home as well as highlighting some opportunities for challenge at The Ilfracombe Academy.
As parents/carers you can help your child make the most of what The Ilfracombe Academy has to offer. You have the greatest influence on their achievement and success through providing early experiences which encourage your children to enjoy and develop their learning. Here are some ways you can support your child:
exposing your children to new experiences;
engaging with them through talk and discussion;
encouraging them to become involved in activities both in school and the wider community;
by giving them encouragement and support.
By doing this, parents enhance their children’s ability to think creatively and critically and stimulate their curiosity about the world. Parental support is one of the most important factors in a child’s success in school. Children whose parents are interested and involved in their education – for example, by supporting their learning at home and working with the school – do better academically and socially. This is true for all children, but parents sometimes find it difficult to know how to best support a child who has a high ability. What you can do, however, makes a big difference.
Being the parent or carer of a more able child can be both a delight and a challenge. In some cases that challenge can last well into adolescence, when peer pressure, personal identity crises and an exceptional intellect or precocious talent can lead to tensions and conflict. Living with an able child can raise many questions for parents and the rest of the family. A parent’s responses to a child’s exceptional needs will, to a large extent, depend on your values; your own experiences of education and what you believe about your own abilities. But it is important as parents and carers to help children maintain a balance between nurturing exceptional talent or ability and supporting your child to develop and express their ability, to find balance, emotional harmony and personal fulfilment.
What Do We Mean By Most Able?
More able learners are those who will typically excel in relation to expectations for their age group. The DfE and Ofsted define the more able in terms of those whose progress significantly exceeds age related expectations. However, the more able are a diverse group and their range of attainment will be varied. Some do well in statutory national curriculum tests or national qualifications. However, being more able covers much more than the ability to succeed in tests and examinations. More able Learners comprise around 10% of The Ilfracombe Academy population. We identify the more able students in all individual subjects, as well as in a central group. The cohort will be reviewed and updated regularly, especially at key transition points.
What Can I Do To Support My Child?
Success in school and in life is not down to ability alone. Likewise, personal fulfilment and professional success are rarely due to one factor alone. We know that self-confidence and self-belief, determination, willingness to work hard and personal motivation are very important. Opportunities to find out what you’re good at; to know what future opportunities are open to you and the encouragement and support of others are also vital.
Parents and carers can help to provide some if not all of these. Success emerges from a combination of:
Ability in specific areas
General intellectual ability
Positive external factors, e.g. family, school
Self-esteem and self-belief.
Key Strategies To Support Your Child.
1.) ‘Read, Read, Read’ - Developing language in everyday life!
Read with your children, and to them, as often as possible, even if they are already good readers.
Talk to your child about what they are interested in and find books related to this. Use the internet to find book recommendations. Here are some websites to start with: https://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/
Able children enjoy learning new words – so have a new word of the day or week at home. Puzzles, crosswords, logic games, word games, card games and board games all help to develop thinking skills and social interaction. Or try learning a whole new language together.
3.) Understanding the World
Talk through your day and your child’s day and encourage active family discussions. Discuss the news and introduce an interesting fact or topic of the week. Give children a broad range of experiences, e.g. visiting exhibitions, listening to music, eating different food.
Oxplore.net is a digital portal for 11–18 year-olds run by Oxford University. The site aims to help students think deeply about issues that go beyond the school curriculum. Users can take on the site’s “Big Questions”, watch videos, test their knowledge, join live events and pose their own questions. It even has a Book Club that students can join.
2.) Extra-curricular - Developing a range of skills
Encourage them to seek extracurricular clubs. Supporting your child is about providing opportunities for your child to flourish. Build in time for them to read, debate, dance, act and compete across as many diverse pursuits as they can. This extends knowledge of the world and encourages discussion.
Do not always focus on your child’s obvious skills – encourage them to sample new activities. Encourage physical activity to develop co-ordination and general fitness. Praise and value effort and persistence, not just achievement.
Conversely, sometimes the most effective support a parent can provide may be to limit the number of engagements and formal activities their child is exposed to, in order to ensure s/he has the space and free time in which to play, experiment and develop hobbies and interests of his/her own. It is also important to complement what is done at school and not simply replicate what goes on in school.
4.) Encourage them to adopt a growth mindset
For more able learners the notion that effort and persistence are just as important as talent when it comes to achieving pretty much anything in life. Remind them that FAIL can often mean First Attempt in Learning! “Change your words…change your mindset”.
Simply put – people with a growth mindset, believe that their most basic abilities, character and attributes can be developed through sustained effort and practice.
Life in all its Fullness